As Joe Bonamassa said in a recent interview in Blues Matters “Every now and again the fans let me re-set the button (every 10 years or so) and do fresh things amongst the material.” And he sure has with his latest album Redemption - a bit more Jazzy at times, with some 80’s Rock and even a touch of Country but never without that underlying Blues-Rock vein. Redemption is Joe’s 13th solo studio album - that’s not counting the many live albums or his work with singer Beth Hart or his Black Country Communion albums. As Joe himself agrees, the song titles are strongly reminiscent of those on a Johnny Cash album.
The opening track “Evil Mama” starts off with a storming drum beat and if you think the track has a Tower of Power feel to it, then it is because the trumpet player, Lee Thornburg, was with them for 10 years. Note : there are plenty of brilliant horns throughout many tracks on the album. That is followed by “King Bee Shakedown” – a rockabilly jazzy number that sounds a little like The Doors’ L.A. Woman (not a bad thing though). Add in a ‘downwards run’ a la Rory Gallagher and this is one of the tracks of the album for me. The tracks “Molly O” and “Deep In The Blues Again” are next up – two songs right out of the BCC repertoire. The latter has a space style guitar riff and having the benefit of the brilliant backing vocals of Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins and Jade MacRae. Even a touch of Country going on here. Next up, it is definitely the song of the album “Self-Inflicted Wounds”. A sweet and slow(ish) ballad, with Joe pondering his role and actions on his own fate. The slow and intense guitar solo adds to a true masterpiece of song writing. Moving on to “Pick Up The Pieces”, this one has a Jazzy feel to it. As Joe himself said, this is the ‘sorbet’ of the album and a brilliant flavour it has too.
Next up is “The Ghost of Macon Jones” – one I reckon I need (and want) to listen to a few more times to really appreciate its craftsmanship. Love the slide guitar sound on this one. Anyone wondering if Joe had completely moved away from his Blues-Rock roots will have that idea dispelled with “Just Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should”. As Joe calls it, it is ‘My Albert (King) kinda song’ with some early 70’s funky blues.
Next up is the title track “Redemption”. This is a striking power ballad written by Joe and Dion (DiMucchi) and the quality of the songwriting shows through. A definite favourite for future concerts. Straight into “I've Got Some Mind Over What Matters”. Then, another standout track for me, “Stronger Now In Broken Places”. A delicate sort of song, with beautiful acoustic guitar and written in conjunction with Gary Nicholson. The final track is “Love Is A Gamble”. A song written with more than a passing nod to Buddy Guy. What a great finish to a wonderfully varied album.
As Joe says himself, ‘It is the catalogue of songs by artists such as Rory Gallagher and Jimi Hendrix that you really respect’ and this album adds to his growing stature. Still aware of his Blues-Rock roots but able to branch out every now and again to explore new ways of songwriting and performing. A true masterpiece of an album and one that comes at the right time in his career.